With its long tradition of fishing, Fife prizes its fresh and locally-sourced food – and so will you. St Andrews has long been a favourite haunt of the rich and famous, attracted by the magnet of the Old Course, of course. David Anderson, a caddie who was appointed greenkeeper in 1851, decided to offer some welcome refreshment for thirsty players and set up a ginger beer stall on the course. It’s typical of the hospitality that any visitor will find in the town and throughout Fife.
The game, as well as the historic attractions and scenery, attracts so many international visitors that the food and drink offering has expanded to satisfy not only guests but Fifers themselves who are becoming ever more conscious of what their home has to offer. Anderson, or Auld Daw as he was known, would take off his cap and scratch his head in wonder at the refreshment options available at today’s Old Course Hotel.
With offerings for those looking for a more formal dinner to tired golfers who would rather walk straight off the course and enjoy a relaxed bite, the destination attracts more than those who bring their clubs. The Road Hole Restaurant is the fine dining choice, with three AA Rosettes for its approach to modern Scottish cuisine, while its sister bar offers a choice of more than 300 whiskies – a dram offering the perfect end to the day.
A little less formal is the Sands Restaurant which still uses the highest-quality Scottish produce but specialises in steak and seafood. Even more relaxed is Hams Hame Pub and Grill. It still offers fresh local ingredients but has much more of a bar atmosphere where a great steak or burger can be enjoyed with one of Scotland’s many excellent craft beers.
Few people will visit the hotel without taking a seat in the Jigger Inn, a step back in time to what was the station master’s house. There are few more atmospheric destinations which cater so beautifully for those who have a hearty appetite. The Duke’s Clubhouse rounds off the excellent offering from the Old Course. This really is the golfers’ destination, however, as the ideal venue for the 19th hole discussion (and a few laughs) about the round.
The game, as well as the historic attractions and scenery, attracts so many international visitors that the food and drink offering has expanded to satisfy not only guests but Fifers themselves who are becoming ever more conscious of what their home has to offer
Vegetarian and vegan food
There are many other options for golfers who choose to immerse themselves in bunker culture throughout their stay. The Dunvegan Hotel has been such a favourite that when former owners Jack and Sheena Willoughby put it on the market in 2017, it was bought by a US/Canadian consortium of keen golfers, with the Willoughbys maintaining an interest – after 23 years in charge it’s hard to let go completely. It’s a comfortable, welcoming bar and restaurant with a casual atmosphere but quality food and drink.
Somewhere to satisfy everyone, whether they are musing over a scorecard or not, is Forgan’s. This incredibly stylish offering on Market Street is in the former golf club factory and has been transformed into a welcoming space that has used the interior well, not disguising its heritage but creating cosy bothies to relax and enjoy local artisan produce. There’s even a special children’s menu.
Forgan’s is attached to the Mitchell’s Deli, where the menu offers fantastic salads, sharing boards, and traditional “pub grub” dishes, prepared with added flair and with the best possible produce. The Adamson in South Street is a stylish restaurant, as famous for its cocktails as the menu, which has much for the growing market for vegetarian and vegan food. The Adamson has created a range of special events. If you’re in town for a Bloody Mary brunch, don’t miss it!
The Fairmont St Andrews offers the fresh tastes of Mediterranean and Italian cuisine at La Cucina, while the St Andrews Bar and Grill concentrates on the best steaks and seafood, with views across the coast and the Fairmont golf courses. There’s also a taste of London high life with the Savoy Afternoon Tea, based on the traditional offering from its sister hotel on The Strand, served with or without champagne.
This incredibly stylish offering on Market Street is in the former golf club factory and has been transformed into a welcoming space that has used the interior well, not disguising its heritage but creating cosy bothies to relax and enjoy local artisan produce
Traditional fish and chips
As you’ll see from the menu, the only thing the Vic Pub and Kitchen on St Mary’s Place takes seriously is the quality of the food and drink. The atmosphere is laid way back making it a favourite of students and younger residents. Everyone is welcome. Try it for breakfast or a relaxed Sunday lunch. St Andrews also has a great choice of traditional fish and chip takeaways, including Cromars on Union Street and Tailend on Market Street. There are also more exotic dishes at popular Indian restaurants such as the Jahangir in Market Street.
Meat-lovers head to the Balgove Steak Barn for a non-nonsense approach to beautifully-prepared steaks, as well as sausages and burgers made on site at its own butchery all are cooked on the wood-fired barbeque. No bookings are taken, just turn up with a healthy appetite.
Not far from St Andrews is The Peat Inn, one of two restaurants in the area with a Michelin star. Chef proprietor Geoffrey Smeddle, along with wife Kathleen, has created one of Scotland’s prime foodie destinations, but still maintain a relaxed atmosphere, showing that fine dining doesn’t have to be stuffy.
Heading south from St Andrews, we head into the East Neuk’s picturesque fishing villages. Although it is excellent, there is much more here than the famous Anstruther Fish Bar. The Wee Chippy is also renowned as one of the area’s best fish and chip shops.
Also in Anster (the local name for it) is the Cellar, where a beautiful wynd leads diners into the relaxing atmosphere to enjoy beautifully-considered and executed dishes that although using a range of innovative ingredients, allow the simplicity of the fish and seafood to shine through.
St Andrews also has a great choice of traditional fish and chip takeaways, including Cromars on Union Street and Tailend on Market Street
The Dreel is a truly traditional coastal tavern, dating from the 1540s. Serving simple fish dishes as well as burgers, roast chicken, vegetarian choices and imaginative side dishes, try local with something like the haddock, leek and Anster cheese fishcake.
For another true experience of the East Neuk over the summer months, head to the atmospheric harbour at Crail and head for a small brown hut. This is The Lobster Hut – not a restaurant or even a café, but a place that will cook freshly-caught lobster just metres from where it was caught. Bring the rest of the ingredients for a picnic from a local deli and sit on the harbour wall for a true village experience.
A firm favourite with both locals and visitors alike, The Courtyard in the Fife town of Cupar serves up a variety of tasty dishes. Enjoy seafood, game, vegan and more in this small restaurant or alfresco in the attractive courtyard. Thanks to chef/proprietor Hermann Schmid, a few Bavarian dishes (and beers) can also be enjoyed. There is a small menu, seasonal dishes and an interesting specials board. Just a five-minute walk from Cupar train station, the restaurant is open from Tuesday until Saturday, serving lunch from 12pm and dinner from 5.30pm.
The pretty village of St Monans might not be a place where you would expect to find a fine dining gem, but Craig Millar @ 16 West End offers exactly that. It has an unassuming exterior but inside it reflects its harbour surroundings, with large windows offering panoramic views of the Firth of Forth.
Also on the harbour, the East Pier Smokehouse has a relaxed atmosphere. Order food at the counter, then head up to the seating area and prepare for a seafood treat. There are menu items for all tastes, however.
Serving simple fish dishes as well as burgers, roast chicken, vegetarian choices and imaginative side dishes, try local with something like the haddock, leek and Anster cheese fishcake
When a village has a connection to one of literature’s most famous characters, it should let visitors know! And in Lower Largo, The Crusoe Hotel celebrates the fact that this is where Alexander Selkirk was born, the man who inspired Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The harbour location is beautiful and, while the Crusoe Bar serves well-prepared traditional fare, upstairs is The Castaway, a more formal dining experience but with no need to get too dressed up.
Great food in season is also a feature of the Old Manor Hotel in Lundin Links. In the Seaview Restaurant, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner are served throughout the week, with Sunday offering the particularly popular carvery. For something lighter, there are lounges offering a drink and snacks.
If, instead of heading east from St Andrews, you drive west along the A91 to the Guardbridge Inn, you’ll find a family-run restaurant and inn offering locally-brewed beers and a menu that will satisfy those with simpler tastes as well as those with more adventurous palates. The building has an interesting history as a feature of the former St Andrews railway.
Some of Fife’s most historic villages have traditional inns that provide the same purpose as they have for centuries, providing comfortable bedrooms, hearty meals and perhaps some foaming ale for weary travellers. Today those travellers would be sightseeing of course, particularly in destinations such as Ceres, where the Ceres Inn offers good hearty pub grub, including home-made steak pie and the chef’s special fishcakes with pickled salad.
Some of Fife’s most historic villages have traditional inns that provide the same purpose as they have for centuries, providing comfortable bedrooms, hearty meals and perhaps some foaming ale for weary travellers
A la carte
In Falkland, a destination popular with fans of Outlander, parts of which are filmed here, The Bruce Inn dates back to the 15th century and it’s still easy to imagine horses being tied up outside, opposite the Palace. The interior has all the charm of the exterior with a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. The menus are simple and accessible with enough imagination for the foodie and imaginative choices for the meat-free. Its location means every room has an amazing view.
Also in Falkland, The Stag Inn in Falkland’s Mill Wynd offers pub food in the oak-beamed lounge and a la carte meals in the dining room, with the Sunday roast a local favourite. Fife does offer a wide choice of world cuisines, particularly in the larger towns. Many have been run by generations of the same family, with recipes handed down and loyal customers making regular return visits.
A Kirkcaldy favourite is Pane E Vino on High Street. It has the real feel of an authentic trattoria, right down to the colourful table cloths and good value. Apart from pasta and pizza, the menu includes many other Italian specialities, but there always has to be room for gelato.
Also on High Street, take a trip to Nepal and India at three excellent restaurants which all offer a wide range of authentic dishes and always provides a good choice for vegetarians. Choose from the Amritsar Tandoori or Annapurna Gurkhas Restaurant.
Fife does offer a wide choice of world cuisines, particularly in the larger towns. Many have been run by generations of the same family, with recipes handed down and loyal customers making regular return visits
A little more spice
Those who have self-catering accommodation in the area can take away a feast. There’s a family-friendly choice at Home Farm View on Dean Park Way. It is part of the Eating Inn chain so parents looking to please fussy children will know what to expect. It’s not fine dining but it’s child-friendly and allows parents to sit back and enjoy good portions of tasty favourites at good prices.
The Elbow Room and The Duchess of Kirkcaldy (named after a John Lennon lyric in Cry Baby Cry) are two venues offering a combination of traditional but well-prepared pub grub, with the added attraction of live music after dinner.
West Fife also has a range of excellent eateries. The family-run Cedar Inn is a favourite as a de facto 19th hole for the Aberdour Golf Club, but it’s also close to the beach. During the day it’s well-presented soup and sandwiches with a la carte dining in The Chartroom restaurant in the evenings.
The ancient capital of Dunfermline has a distinct character and can offer its visitors a choice of traditional dishes and something with a little more spice. Locals swear by the Lee Garden Chinese takeaway restaurant in Hospital Street. Unpretentious and friendly, the large portions don’t compromise on quality.
The ancient capital of Dunfermline has a distinct character and can offer its visitors a choice of traditional dishes and something with a little more spice
For a refined lunch or dinner, visit the Garvock House Hotel, set in two acres of its own grounds in the town. Its traditional and elegant surroundings are also perfect for a morning coffee with scones or afternoon tea with excellent shortbread. A short drive from the centre of Dunfermline is Carnock village. The 16th-century Carnock Inn here is becoming a destination restaurant for visitors and locals. It’s a proper traditional inn with simple but excellent food and, they claim, the best steak pie in the area!
Newport-On-Tay is the last stop in Fife before the Tay Bridge and the city of Dundee. It is becoming something of a foodie hub thanks to cafes such as Kitschnbake, which creates imaginative savoury and sweet dishes every day. Also, The Newport is the creation of Masterchef: The Professionals winner Jamie Scott and specialises in tasting menus, although more casual dining is also available.
Food festivals are becoming a part of the Fife calendar, too, particularly in Crail where the Food Festival happens over two days in June, with fresh seafood (of course) but also produce from across the area including Fife-grown chillis. Spend some time here and nothing will surprise you.
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